Left Ventricular Assistive Device (LVAD)
When you have a left ventricular assistive device (LVAD), monthly follow-up appointments are necessary to prevent complications and ensure your well-being.
If your implant facility is far from home, this means long, frequent drives, which can be taxing for heart failure patients.
As a designated shared care facility, UCI Health provides LVAD follow-up appointments to give you the ongoing care you need while remaining closer to home. Every step of the way, we communicate closely with your physician and implant facility.
If you are a heart failure patient, we also provide evaluations to determine if you could benefit from LVAD or heart transplant.
To learn more about LVAD follow-up care or to find out if you are a candidate, call 714-456-8431.
What is an LVAD?
An LVAD helps a weak heart pump blood. It doesn't replace your heart; it assists it in doing its job.
LVADs have two primary uses in heart failure patients:
- Bridge to transplant therapy: This is a life-saving therapy that enables patients to use the LVAD while they wait for a heart transplant. The LVAD is sometimes even able to restore the failing heart and eliminate the need for a transplant.
- Destination therapy: Not all patients are candidates for heart transplants. LVAD is used as a long-term treatment in such cases because it can prolong and improve patients' lives.
The device is implanted inside your chest, just into the bottom of the heart.
One end of the pump is attached to the left ventricle, which pumps blood into the body. The other end is attached to the aorta, the body's main artery. A tube passed through your skin connects the pump to the external battery pack.
When the LVAD is working, blood flows from the heart into the pump. When sensors indicate that the LVAD is full, the blood is pumped into the aorta.
Shared care facility services
As a designated LVAD shared care facility — and one of the only ones in Orange County — UCI Health provides follow-up after the first three-month period following implantation, called the "critical zone." During this critical time, your implant facility will monitor you and provide care.
After the critical zone has passed, you will visit UC Irvine Medical Center for an assessment once a month. You will be seen by a care team that includes:
- Physician, who assesses any symptoms or issues you may be having
- Nurse practitioner/LVAD coordinator, who assists the physician
- Social worker, who addresses psychosocial issues
- Palliative care nurse, who assesses your comfort level and overall mental health
We collaborate closely with your physician to communicate your progress and any issues. If we discover any problems during your follow-up that need to be addressed, we refer you to your implant facility for treatment.
LVAD evaluation services
Our cardiologists offer advanced heart failure consultations for end-stage heart failure patients who need to be considered for a transplant or LVAD.
Candidates for LVAD evaluations generally:
- Have end-stage heart failure
- Are candidates for transplant
- Can’t walk more than one block without becoming breathless
- Sleep on a large number of pillows to elevate their head
- Take heart failure medications that are ineffective
We strive to make the patient referral process as seamless as possible.
As an LVAD shared care facility, we communicate and work closely with you every step of the way.
The following are key indicators for an LVAD evaluation referral:
- Identification as NYHA Class IV Heart Failure
- Multiple hospitalizations for heart failure
- Inability to walk one block without shortness of breath
- Intolerance to heart failure medications
- Increasing diuretic dosage
- Non-responsiveness to cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
- Laboratory values indicative of heart failure
Physician's referral criteria are:
- EF < 20%
- Serum sodium < 136
- BUN > 40 or creatinine > 1.8
- Hematocrit < 35%
To refer a patient for LVAD evaluations for follow-up care, call 714-456-8431.